Immorality in the church has always been a challenge to conquer. The Corinthian church was trying to cover it up, deny it, or make it seem normal.
In an earlier personal letter, Paul told them “not to keep company with sexually immoral people” (1 Cor 5:9), but he clarified that this did not mean with “sexually immoral people of this world”—-that is, unbelievers, since we have to live in this world and must win such sinners to Christ (5:10).
However, we are to refuse close, intimate friendship with “anyone named [or who calls himself] a brother, who is sexually immoral, or covetous, or an idolater, or a reviler [‘slanderer, insulter or blasphemer’], or a drunkard, or an extortioner [‘swindler’]—-not even to eat with such a person” (1 Cor 5:11).
Believers do not have to be perfect, but they do have to respond to biblical exhortation or correction and repent when justly rebuked by a brother. Discipline is reserved only for those who refuse to recognize their sin.
God judges those outside the church, but the believers are to judge those “who are inside,” or who claim to be Christ’s followers, when they deviate from God’s commands, especially in a damaging or public manner causing others to stumble into disobedience. By doing nothing, the church communicates that open sin is insignificant to God and obedience to the commands is optional.
The command is clear: “Remove the evil person from among you.” The plural imperative refers to action by the whole church body. We are commanded to “be blameless and innocent, children of God above reproach in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation, among whom [we] appear as lights in the world” (Phil 2:15).
Regeneration breaks the power of sin, but believers can still choose to sin and develop sinful patterns unless we help each other.
If done properly in love, discipline is designed to cause contrition and the desire to return to fellowship with the brethren. When sinners do repent, we should gladly and thankfully “forgive and comfort” them back into fellowship (2 Cor 2:7).
“Dear Jesus, thank You for the opportunity to confess my sin, forsake it, and receive complete forgiveness. May I ever be open to exhortation by godly fellow believers, and may I have wisdom to avoid those who will not accept correction.”
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